Exposure.  A Parisian hospital opens its doors to artists from the Camino de Santiago and elsewhere

Exposure. A Parisian hospital opens its doors to artists from the Camino de Santiago and elsewhere

Until April 4, an artistic exhibition on the theme of paths is being held at the Bretonneau hospital in Paris. A window wide open to the world, accessible to all. And a beautiful invitation to an imaginary journey!

A street in a hospital is not ordinary. And when this street serves as the setting for an exhibition, it’s even less so! However, it is this unique proposition that the Bretonneau hospital, located in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, a stone’s throw from Montmartre, currently offers. The title of this exhibition? “On the paths.” Its authors? The artists of the Compostelle 2000 association, which has been working since 1998 to serve pilgrims to Saint-Jacques in the Paris region.

“This exhibition,” explains Martine Souris, its president, “was produced by a collective of artists who bear witness to their experiences on the paths through paintings, photos, travel diaries, drawings, sculptures, calligraphies. They gathered here to offer a reading of their paths, their memories and their emotions.”

A hospital with the “Culture and health” label

As is often the case, the idea for this exhibition was born from an encounter. During a Qigong session, Daniel Château, painter and member of the Compostelle 2000 association, chats with one of the hospital staff members. Having thus established contact, he participated in a first collective exhibition at the time of the pandemic. This is where the idea of ​​offering this hospital a thematic exhibition intended for patients, caregivers and visitors was born in the artist’s mind. “Indeed,” he comments, “this hospital, which offers local care to elderly people, has held the “Culture and Health in Ile-de-France” label since 2014. It therefore offers a varied program with numerous partners, in diverse artistic fields.”

Behind the scenes of the exhibition

A small team then set to work to contact artists within the association, then select the works. Christine Dodos-Ungerer and Gérard Harlay then took charge of the scenography. “All the artists mobilized to contribute to the success of this exhibition,” he comments, “even participating in its financing. That shows their motivation!” Two months later, on January 24, 2024, the exhibition opened. On either side of the internal street, on the ground floor of the hospital, around ten spaces have taken on the colors and ambiance of the paths. That is, in all, around 100 works produced by 17 artists, not counting the amateur painters and designers of the “Camino sketchers” (1) and the writing workshops.

Tastes and colors…

The latter have the honor of being represented from the start of the exhibition. In the first room, a display case contains the works produced during the “Plumes du chemin” writing workshops, during “writing-walk” stays which took place for the most part in Brittany. “These sketches, watercolors, ink drawings or leporellos (2), comments Danièle Tournié, responsible for this activity within Compostelle 2000, were produced by pilgrims who like to play with words, write their memories, invent haikus.” On a large white wall are also hung drawings or paintings made by around twenty “Camino sketchers”, who meet once a month – at the initiative of Claude Ogier – for a walk in Ile-de-France, where they let their feathers and brushes wander according to their footsteps and their imagination.

All along the street, the works are then grouped either by theme or by artist: photographs, silk paintings, oil paintings, watercolors, stained glass, Chinese calligraphy, engravings, etc. The whole world of paths unfolds before our eyes: pilgrims on the road, heritage, landscapes, details of nature (tree, river, etc.) as well as more specific motifs: scallops, reproductions credencial stamps, etc.

Shared art

It is well known: through its universality, art brings people together. And it brings back memories. “A few days ago,” says Gérard Harlay, “I spoke with a couple of Franco-Spanish patients. They told me that they were very touched by the evocations of the paths that cross Spain, because they spent part of their lives traveling around this country.” Many other patients who visited this exhibition also gave very positive testimonies: even if they cannot respond physically, this invitation to travel is an open window for their imagination.

This exhibition also gave rise to many questions: “Spain is far away! How can we go there on foot?” Or: “How do you paint on the way?” Finally, members of the healthcare staff also took up this initiative. When they walk the street of this hospital with their rehabilitation patients, the works of art serve as their objective, a goal to achieve.

We can bet that the exchanges that will take place during the conferences and meetings with the artists will be just as fruitful. Isn’t art one of the best natural therapies? Just like walking, it has no contraindications: it is therefore an exhibition to visit without moderation!

(1) This term “Camino sketchers” was modeled on “Urban Sketchers”, a global community of professional and amateur sketchers who promote the practice of drawing in situ, based on direct observation of urban and daily life.

(2) The leporello is a book that unfolds like an accordion, thanks to a particular technique of folding and gluing its pages.

In practice

  • The exhibition takes place until April 4, 2024.
  • Bretonneau AP-HP Hospital, 23 rue Joseph de Maistre, 75018 Paris

Metro line 13, Guy Moquet stop

Metro line 12, Lamarck-Caulaincourt stop

Bus line 95, Place Jacques Froment stop

Information: At Bretonneau hospital: Sahra Sebbahi – [email protected] In Compostelle 2000: [email protected]

The exhibition, which is located on the internal street, at the entrance to the hospital, can be visited every day of the week between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. FREE ENTRANCE.

  • Meetings and conferences:

Meetings with the artists: Thursday March 7 at 3 p.m. (in the street inside the hospital)

Conference for the general public with patients: Thursday February 8 at 3 p.m. (in the hospital performance hall)

Conference for the general public: Friday March 8 at 7:30 p.m. (in the hospital performance hall)

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